READING, Dad. Pennsylvania school districts are now months away from being authorized to decide whether or not to mask.
This comes as Governor Tom Wolf indicates he will put the decision in the hands of local officials on Jan. 17, once the statewide mask requirement for K-12 schools expires.
The governor’s announcement on Monday comes as children ages 5-11 roll up their sleeves to receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
“I think there’s a whole group of parents who are very, very excited,” Dr. Karen Wang, director of pediatric services at Berks Community Health Center. “They are anxiously awaiting the approval of the vaccine for children ages 5-11.”
She said the center began giving doses of the Pfizer vaccine to children in this age group on Saturday.
“Other parents are more careful,” she said. “They’re concerned. You know, we talk to them every day about why we think it’s important to get vaccinated and why it will help make it better for all of us.”
“I think we see, we’re still seeing some steady pediatric cases in the area,” Wang said. “We are hopeful with the decline in numbers in the delta wave overall that we will see a sustained decline in the coming months.”
“And we are hopeful that the vaccine for primary school children will also reduce the number of cases in the coming months,” she added.
Currently, the order of the acting state secretary of health requires K-12 schools, early education programs, and childcare centers to mask, regardless of vaccination status.
The governor said we are in a different place than we were in September, and said it’s time to get back to a more normal environment.
On Monday, the Pennsylvania Republican Caucus issued a statement, which said in part:
“In May, Governor Wolf told us that once Pennsylvania reached a 70% vaccination rate, its state-wide mask mandates would be over. He failed to keep his promise in September with his administration’s mandate for school masks — what a random time in the future – further delays in fulfilling that promise.”
The governor’s office says the full mask will remain in effect for early education programs and childcare providers until further notice.